Thursday, January 19, 2012

"A New Man" (Buffy 1.12): Ethan Rayne is Making Mischief!

Only now, at episode 12, do we get an oblique and brief visual and verbal reference to "314," this season's Big Bad. You're such a tease, season 4! But I can't stay mad at you when you deliver such a delightful Espenson-penned Giles-centered episode, though, as my intrepid co-watcher Jenn will elaborate later in the post, pretty crucial ground gets laid in the midst of Giles wreaking havoc as a Fyarl Demon.

Much like Voldemort and Ralph Fiennes, you can totally see Giles in there.

But first, let's cover the Buffy guide to feeling not quite yourself.

DON'T be afraid of a good old fashioned pity party. Giles is feeling "neglected and out of the loopy" after Buffy's surprise birthday party (will they never learn?) because a) he's old and "between projects"; b) hadn't met Riley yet; c) Buffy seems to like Maggie Walsh better now; and d) he hadn't been told that Buffy's new boyfriend is actually part of the Initiative, even though, and this is the final insult, Spike knew. After he pulls a pretty genius interruption of a classic "villain speaks aloud ironically to no one" speech from Ethan, the two get right pissed at the pub.

We've all been there. And by "we," I mean me and Jenn.

Because Ethan is a trickster figure from way back he *joked* that he slipped Ripper a poison pill in his pint, and *actually* turned him into a horned beast of rage.

You know, just for shits and giggles.
DO form an unholy alliance. It's a pretty smart little metaphorical literalization, really. Giles feels isolated and unable to connect with the Scoobies, and that's precisely what Ethan's spell hath wrought. Though we hear Giles's voice desperately asking for help, everyone else hears and sees Fyarl, and throws cookware at him. Good thing Spike speaks it.

The duo (Spiles? Gike?) rolling in the Citroen.
As the two cavort around town trying to find Ethan and reverse the spell, Giles slowly becomes more demonic, or maybe he just really wanted to take the piss out of Dr. Maggie Walsh for the "Buffy is missing a father figure" remark she made.

Walsh, you had it coming.

DON'T forget the people who love you will always see you for who you are. Buffy is able to recognize her Watcher's eyes, though it was only after she plunged a thankfully faux-silver letter opener into his chest. She and Riley tag-team Rayne, and send him to an undisclosed, military-operated detention facility. This isn't as funny now as it was in 2000.

Giles in Ethan's shirt, however, remains hilarious.
And now for the implications. Quoting Jenn: "While seeing Buffy kick Riley across the room was quite funny, her revelation to Willow that she was still holding back is telling. Moreover, his comment at the end that he likes her in charge is fine...for now...but it won't be, especially in Season 5. So, his growing awareness that she outclasses him in experience, leadership, etc. isn't quite a problem yet, but the foundation starts in this episode." Well put, my friend. And I was just going to go with "Riley is embarking on his journey to suckage."

Jenn also mentions Giles and Maggie's fraught conference about Buffy, where they reveal their wildly different mentoring styles. I found this interesting not only because of the mistrust of academics we've mentioned earlier, but also because of the Tolkien-esque dichotomy the episode posits between science and technology (bad/Walsh/Saruman) and more "retro" ways of apprehending the world (good/Giles/hobbits). A Slayage panel, perhaps?

Next up: A slew of Initiative episodes. I wonder if this is when the bloom comes off the season 4 rose for your co-watchers.

No comments:

Post a Comment